Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Good move, bad move

On the day after the election, the Toronto Star was hopeful: "With the death of the Liberal government, now begins the first real chance for Liberal renewal in 12 years." Many bloggers--of all political stripes--agreed. Calgary Grit saw the defeat as a "chance to rebuild the Big Red Machine." In the post-election edition of the Bloggers' Hotstove podcast, Conservative supporter Bob Tarantino from Let It Bleed talked about how he envied the Liberals their chance to put the focus on something positive and exciting like a leadership race and a policy convention.

So how's that renewal looking, after the first just-shy-of-two-weeks? The verdict is...decidedly mixed.

Frank McKenna not running for the leadership: good move. I have nothing against McKenna personally, but Martin's leadership team announcing their support for him before the election had even ended really didn't bode well for anything but a coronation. I'm with Calgary Grit that a more open race has a better chance of leading to real renewal.

Bill Graham as interim leader: good move. Graham is a Liberal stalwart who falls squarely into neither the Chretienite nor the Martinite camps, so he's got the chops without too much baggage. He's also not a contender for the actual leadership, so he can actually get down to the business of being the opposition leader without the media and the bloggers buzzing around him like flies. (And of course, it certainly doesn't hurt his standing in my eyes that he's a supporter of Mixed-Member Proportional representation who has lent his signature to the Fair Vote Canada petition.)

Paul Martin staying on as figurehead until the convention: bad move. There may be "tradition" as a precedent, but the decision simply makes no sense. If he's really turning the reins over to Graham, as he insists, then this only leads to needless speculation about a possible Trudeau-esque phoenix act, which can be nothing but damaging at this point. And if he's not really turning the reins over to Graham, then...well, he should.

Tim Murphy being hired by Graham as chief of staff: bad, bad move. As pogge reminds us, Murphy didn't exactly emerge from the whole Grewal affair smelling like a rose (remember the "welcoming mat with lots of comfy fur on it"?). Is this the start of Martin's backroom guys letting their top dog take the fall for the whole gang while they continue slinking about the corridors of power? Let's hope not.


freshly_squeezed said...

One of my good friends from the Ryerson debate team ran against Graham as the Green Party candidate. He went in knowing full well that he'd get owned (like any other Green candidate, I suppose), but it was great to see him running all the same.

I think the Liberal Party will be in good hands with Graham. And if Martin even THINKS about trying a comeback...well, I for one will be happy to see the NDP become the Official Opposition.


Paul Martin for Liberal Leader!

Anonymous said...

Graham and Murphy were both active in the Liberal Party in what is now Toronto Centre (Graham's riding--Murphy was the provincial MPP for the riding for a few years) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There's no question that they would have met and known each other well before Murphy became associated with Martin.

Point being that there may be less here than meets the eye.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

freshly squeezed,

Yeah, that's the fun thing about those forums for the smaller parties' candidates--you get to debate a cabinet minister! Heh.


Good to know.